It’s time for pharmacists to get out of comfort zones and cross the street

I hope you got a chance to read the article New opportunities under MACRA set stage for pharmacist-provided care in the January issue of Pharmacy Today (Vol. 23, Issue 1, p. 46). Michael Baxter, APhA director of regulatory affairs, did a fantastic job of laying out how the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA) changes the way “eligible clinicians” (physicians and certain nonphysician practitioners) are to be paid and how quality measurements will be used to drive payment of incentives. The final MACRA rule, published by CMS in November 2016, includes quality measures that specifically mention pharmacists.

What does MACRA mean for pharmacists? MACRA went into effect January 1, with the first payment adjustments starting January 1, 2019. That means that now is the time for pharmacists to walk across the street to that large medical practices or physicians’ office whose patients you share and start a conversation about working together to achieve MACRA goals.

Payment models are changing to pay for outcomes of care. Our efforts must be grounded in the realities of daily practice while still focused on strategically building our profession. Most states have mechanisms that allow pharmacists to facilitate collaboration with their medical colleagues. I urge you to reach out to physicians and other eligible clinicians to explore collaborations for all practitioners to take advantage of the opportunities within MACRA—collaborations that would be further enhanced when pharmacists gain provider status under Medicare.

The opportunities within MACRA not only call on us to proactively prove our value by forming partnerships with other health care practitioners, but to continue pushing our Members of Congress to support the recently reintroduced Pharmacy and Medically Underserved Areas Enhancement Act (S. 109/H.R. 592), which, when enacted, will provide Medicare Part B beneficiaries in medically underserved communities access to pharmacist-provided care.

You’ve all heard me say before that we need your help to gain pharmacist provider status in Medicare. Last year, our members led the way in grassroots engagement by writing more than 42,000 letters to Congress. This year, we need to double that number! C’mon—it only takes 5 minutes. Visit to start today.

We’ve got a chance to finally gain professional recognition and to provide the best possible care to our patients and communities. Let’s get this done!